Your Brand Tastes Like…Water.
In the age of analytics, where everything is tracked, measured, followed, friended, tweeted, analyzed and then graphed. Where content is king and design merely acts as a servant, where does something so seemingly unquantifiable like a Visual Identity fit in? Let’s explore how this notion pertains to one of our favorite, odorless, nearly tasteless and totally essential products ever - water. (I know, you thought I was going to say Vodka. We’ll write about that later).
water |?wôt?r; ?wä-| noun
1. a colorless, transparent, odorless, tasteless liquid that forms the seas, lakes, rivers, and rain and is the basis of the fluids of living organisms
Okay, let’s step away from our screens for a second and go to the grocery store (yes, you can take your iPhone). At any of our major stores, no doubt you’ve been down the beverage aisle and are presented with at least fifty to one hundred different water brands. A virtual mosaic of different labels and cleverly-shaped and tinted bottles all selling the same thing: H2O. What makes them so different from each other and why do you gravitate toward one over another? While most people would like to believe that they’re basing their decision on taste/flavor, the reality is, when put to a blind taste test, few people can distinguish one brand of water from another. So what pulls us toward one bottle of flavorless, odorless liquid over another? In this case, we think the visual identity is the main culprit.
Consumers gravitate toward the visual identity and brand message before anything. It’s fashion. It’s primal. It’s part of a human need to align ourselves with something that we’re attracted to and makes us feel a certain way. For example, these water brands make us feel:
Smart (Smart Water)
Upscale (Evian, Perrier)
Fit (Propel Fitness Water)
Exotic (Fiji Water)
Charitable (Ethos Water)
Just f’n thirsty (Dasani & Aquafina)
So, if content is king and everyone virtually has the same content (water) what is the distinguishing factor? Is the visual identity simply a servant to this content or is it really the master? I would say the latter.
What water do you buy and why? Be honest. This isn’t a focus group and we’re not mining for information.
Admission: I don’t buy bottled water anymore for environmental reasons. When I did, I liked Smart Water. Why? One, I liked the sleek bottle and simple typography (visual identity). It wasn’t trying too hard or taking itself so seriously. Two, I really liked their pithy brand message at the time. In a sense, I suppose it made me feel smarter since I was associating with a water that was speaking my language (brand message).